Potter WaspPotter Wasp – identity crisis Potter Wasp – larder Potter Wasp – mud nest Potter Wasp – water

It is hard work, for us amateurs trying to ID a predatory wasp, let alone the difference between a Mud Dauber wasp or Potter Wasp. Well, did you know that one of the differences is that Mud Dauber wasps fill their nest cells with paralysed spiders to provide food for their larvae. The Potter Wasps fill their nest cells with paralysed caterpillars as food source for their larvae.

When looking at the potter wasp, the sharp-eyed among us will notice that there are variations in the colouration of an orange and black potter wasp.

In the following first image, the mud wasp classification is Abispa ephippium, whilst in the second image the potter wasp classification is Delta latreillei. Both wasps were similar in size. In the second image, the wings did have black colour tips, although this is an older wasp whose wings are now damaged. The main visual difference is the black coloured band, in the first image the mud wasp has orange band on either side of the black band. In the second image the abdomen has a single orange band with a black band.

What threw us initially in IDing the wasp was the following image where there was a group of potter wasps sheltering on a lemon tree one hot summer day in Alice Springs. As they appeared comfortable with each other presence, it was first assumed they were the same species. But if you look closely, the pictured top potter wasp has a difference in the colour of the bands compared to the lower two potter wasps.

Orange Potter Wasp species resting in the shade of a lemon tree
Orange Potter Wasp species resting in the shade of a lemon tree one hot summer day in Alice Springs, NT

Abispa ephippium are more commonly known as Mud Dauber, also known as Large Mud-nesting Wasp, Large Mud-nest Wasp and also Large Mason Wasp. In many parts of the country such as Central Australia, they are also commonly called the Orange Potter Wasp.

In the following image of the Abispa ephippium, as well as the banding on the abdomen, note the thorax with the large central black patch between the forewings and the two different size rectangular orange part below the black patch.

Mud Dauber/Orange Potter Wasp (Abispa ephippium), Alice Springs, NT
Mud Dauber/Orange Potter Wasp (Abispa ephippium), Alice Springs, NT

Body parts of a wasp
There are three parts to the main body of a wasp. The head (that has the mandible (also known as the jaws), antennae, simple eyes (ocelli), compound eyes; the thorax (mesosoma); slender waist/pinched waist (petiole); and the abdomen (metasoma); and at the end of the abdomen is a stinger (ovipositor). They also have transparent set of wings and three pairs of legs.


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Vespidae
  • Genus: Abispa
  • Species: A. ephippium
  • Binomial name: Abispa ephippium
Mud Dauber/Orange Potter Wasp (Abispa ephippium), Alice Springs, NT
Mud Dauber/Orange Potter Wasp (Abispa ephippium), Alice Springs, NT

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Vespidae
  • Subfamily: Eumeninae
  • Genus: Delta
  • Species D. latreillei
  • Binomial name: Delta latreillei

    previously
  • Genus: Eumenes
  • Species: E. latreilli
Orange-tailed Potter Wasp (Delta latreillei), Alice Springs, NT
Orange-tailed Potter Wasp (Delta latreillei), Alice Springs, NT

More information to come… if you feel you have more information to add to this article, please send us an email with a link to this page.


Footnote & References

  1. Mud Dauber and Potter Wasps, Queensland Museum, https://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Explore/Find+out+about/Animals+of+Queensland/Insects/Wasps+and+bees/Common+species/Mud+Dauber+and+Potter+wasps
  2. Large Mud-nest Wasp I – Abispa ephippium, Brisbane Insects, https://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_vespoidwasps/LargePotterWasp.htm

Potter WaspPotter Wasp – identity crisis Potter Wasp – larder Potter Wasp – mud nest Potter Wasp – water

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